Sunday 19 November 2017

Aki hopes to delay his Baa-Baas bow

Connacht's Bundee Aki. Photo: Sportsfile
Connacht's Bundee Aki. Photo: Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

Connacht centre Bundee Aki will hope to put his international bow on hold for an extra four or five days at least after he was called up to Vern Cotter's Barbarians squad earlier this week.

The Barbarians will take on England at Twickenham on Sunday, May 28 and later that week the meet Ulster at Kingspan Stadium on Thursday, June 1.

But Aki will hope to be able to represent Connacht on the same weekend as the England game in Twickenham, as the final of the Champions Cup play-off competition will be run off at the same time.

Guinness Pro12 champions Connacht cannot now qualify for the Champions Cup next season by finishing in the top six places in the division, so depending where they finish the campaign, they will face either the seventh-place team in the English Premiership or the French Top 14 in an away-from-home play-off.

Those play-off semi-finals will be played on the weekend of May 19, 20 and 21, with the two winners facing off the following weekend in the final; a Connacht win in the last four will see Aki unavailable for the Baa-Baas in the English capital.

Should Aki feature the following Thursday, he won't be the first Connacht player to feature in a Barbarians match at the newly-developed Ravenhill. Last November back-row Naulia Dawai represented Fiji against the Barbarians in Belfast in the week before he joined the province.

Fellow Pro12 player, Corey Flynn from Glasgow Warriors, will join Aki in the squad, while Australian veterans Adam Ashley-Cooper and Will Genia will be part of the squad with Argentinian Facundo Isa and Samoan prop Census Johnston.

Aki becomes Ireland-eligible this autumn, but he has yet to declare whether or not he wants to represent Joe Schmidt's side.

Irish Independent

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